When you're hurt in a slip and fall on someone else's property in Florida, it usually makes sense to explore your options for getting compensation for your losses, especially if it's pretty clear that the property owner's negligence led to the accident. Here's what to know:
After any kind of slip and fall incident in Florida, you might have several options for getting compensation for your injuries, income losses, and your mental and physical pain and suffering (taken together, these losses are called "damages" in legalese). For example:
In the insurance claim process, your goal is to come away with a settlement that covers all of the costs (economic or otherwise) of your slip and fall injuries. And even if your slip and fall case ends up in Florida court, a settlement is always possible at any point before trial (the vast majority of injury cases settle, after all).
Check out our example of a slip and fall settlement in Florida, and get more details on making a successful slip and fall case:
A statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard in the state's civil court system. Miss the deadline, and your case is sure to be dismissed, unless a rare exception applies to alter or extend the filing window. (Talk to an attorney for the details on these exceptions in Florida, and for more information on how the statute of limitations applies to your case.)
In Florida, anyone who is injured in a slip and fall must get their lawsuit filed against the property owner within four years of the incident. This deadline is found at Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(a), and it applies to almost all personal injury cases brought in Florida's civil courts.
From a strategy standpoint, you want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a slip and fall lawsuit, even if you're confident your injury claim will settle. At the very least, having the option of going to court will give you more leverage during settlement talks.
Before you file an insurance claim or lawsuit over your slip and fall, prepare yourself to hear the property owner argue that you bear some amount of blame for the accident. If this tactic is successful, you could see a significant chunk of any court award taken away (and a finding of shared fault will also likely reduce the value of your slip and fall claim even if you settle out of court).
For example, the property owner could argue that:
In the rare event that your Florida slip and fall case makes it to a court trial, the state's "pure comparative negligence rule" will be used to determine your share of legal blame for your accident, and how much compensation you can still receive from the property owner.
Under "pure comparative negligence," any damages award a personal injury plaintiff receives will be reduced according to the percentage of their fault for the underlying accident. So, let's say the jury finds that you are 15 percent to blame for your slip and fall accident. They also find that your damages (including your medical bills, lost income, and "pain and suffering") total $10,000. That will leave the property owner on the hook for $8,500 (that's the original $10,000 minus the 15 percent that equates with your share of fault).
Even if your Florida slip and fall case doesn't make it to trial—even if a lawsuit isn't actually filed, for that matter—the state's comparative negligence rule will likely still factor in. During settlement negotiations, the property owner's insurance company (and/or their attorney) are concerned with what might happen if your case does wind up in court.
So you can expect any slip and fall settlement offer from the other side to reflect their view of your role in causing your own injuries, seen through the lens of Florida's shared fault rules. That's why it's so important to make a strong liability case against the property owner.
Learn more about comparative negligence in slip and fall cases.
A unique set of rules (and deadlines) will apply if your slip and fall occurred on government property in Florida, or if the negligence of the government (or a government employee) otherwise played a part in your injury. You'll need to provide the relevant government agency with proper notice of your claim, and most injury claims are subject to a $200,000 damages cap. Learn more about making an injury claim against the government in Florida.
It's important to understand the rules that might be in play any time you're hurt on someone else's property. But when it comes to making sure your rights are protected, one-way information can only do so much. For help that's tailored to your situation, it might be time to reach out to an experienced legal professional.
Learn how an attorney can help after an accident or injury, and how to find the right personal injury lawyer. You can also use the features on this page to connect with a Florida injury attorney near you.